When I was reminded by this story of Google’s mindfulness program, I couldn’t help but smile once again at the irony. What gets me is that image of the brain-mushing internet god, the search engine that powers so many mindfulness-free online daydreams, promoting the ancient technique that is the very opposite – you could argue – of its own effects on the world. After all, Google is always there when we need to escape into the timeless online realm. Mindfulness is about being present and rooted in the present physical world.
But is it so crazy, really? Leadership is about working from the point we find ourselves, not lamenting an impossible state of affairs we identify as lost. Google is right to promote mindfulness. Google is the world today. That’s not going to change anytime soon. But mindfulness is far, far older (it’s fair to say Buddhism isn’t a flash in the pan). Google – ie the internet – and mindfulness should be able to work together.
So good on them for their mindfulness program. They’re showing leadership with it. And in our own, smaller ways, we too should be promoting mindfulness. For even if all the hype around it might have your fad radar beeping like mad, rest assured that mindfulness is no tae bo. You won’t ever look a fool for promoting these qualities.
But on the subject of the zeitgeist, mindfulness is very in keeping with the requirements of what gets called “resonant leadership”. Resonant leadership is about those very positive human qualities that work as well in life and love as they do in the workplace. Where mindfulness comes in is by helping us to keep them to the forefront even when the pressure is on. We might present the best version of ourselves under calm circumstances (again, in life, love and the workplace) but our demons can come to the fore when stresses strike. Ironic, given its name, mindfulness helps us to physically dissipate the stress through simple breath exercises and body scans. In terms of conveying the bigger picture to our teams when the pressure’s on, mindfulness helps to clear our thought process of neurotic fireworks. And it always will.
Mindfulness and Google; ancient Buddhism and very modern “resonance”. None of this should be off limits to us as leaders.